never-apologize-for-joy-courageous-living

People: I had a baby. A baby!

I’m pretty excited about her. Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows this, because since she was born, it’s been baby-baby-baby. And color me biased, but: I think she’s reallllllly freaking cute.

But–

as the baby pictures began to accumulate on my feed, typically accompanied by me gushing about this kid’s overall downright cuteness and my penchant for adding the hashtag #WhatACutiePatootie, I noticed something started to happen:

I started to feel apologetic for my joy.

Apologizing For Your Joy

When you feel apologetic for your joy, you start to:

  • Shrink from letting your joy be on full display (cue the cool girls in middle school and high school who rolled their eyes and said, “Oh my god–like, calm down!” when I was ecstatically excited).
  • Feel guilty for your privilege (thinking of all the people who don’t have what you have, who deserve it just as much as you).
  • Worry that maybe you’re “too much” for other people (will people think that I’m weird because I keep posting all of these pictures of my kid; people will get tired of all of these kid pictures and not like me anymore).
  • Downplay your joy, for fear that the “other shoe will drop” and that something about loving your life will mean that life will even the score–this is a fear of letting life get really, really good.

This is all rooted in caring what other people think.

The Joy Cannot Be Contained

I was marveling at my daughter’s feet, and I took a picture. They are so exquisitely tiny, and soft, and the little bones that make up her toes are so slender and elegant. Her heels kick out, in constant motion whenever she is awake; her toes curl under if I give them a gentle tug.

I marvel at her motion: she is alive, she is breathing, she is an actual human being! A human being with her own soul, her own life’s path, her own way of looking at the world that will be different from mine, yet influenced on some level by my point of view!

It was precisely this kind of thinking that reminded me: if her point of view on the world might in any way be influenced by my own, then I was very clear that I wanted her to have a model of fully embracing her joy.

That’s when I posted this photo and its accompanying note:

apologizing-for-joy-photo

Perusing my feed a few days later, I saw this picture, posted by Kate Northrup:

kate-northrup

That’s when I realized: this is something that we humans just do, this apologizing for joy. Our work is to catch ourselves and remember that it’s our birthright to live this human experience in joy. That’s why we are here.

The Courage to Embrace Your Joy

It’s an act of courage to fully embrace your joy. We live in a world that does contain hard things; it does contain suffering. There are people who don’t have the resources that they need, whether material or emotional. There are people who have all the access one could imagine, and they live in a personal hell of hating themselves.

It’s important to understand that when you fully embrace your joy, you’re making a choice to walk into divine consciousness, a sort of communion with the Universe and every other being who walks the planet.

It’s vulnerable and thus an act of courage.

Despite the naysayers, despite the fear that you could lose it all, despite the fact that we live in a world where it is true that people suffer–choosing to fully and ecstatically embrace your joy is actually what amplifies you, gives you energy and reserves to create something that ripples out to others.

That’s what’s so divine about this choice: when you fill your own cup with joy, more becomes available for others.